The ongoing war in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have sparked a heated debate among the international community over the different approaches and implications of these two situations.
Some have drawn parallels between the Russian aggression and the Israeli occupation, while others have denounced such comparisons as biased and inaccurate.
How do different countries and organizations view these conflicts, and what are their interests and motivations behind their statements?
Response of United States:
First of all, the President of the United States of America Joe Biden reacted to the Russian aggression against Ukrainians in a public statement in April,2022 “Civilians executed in cold blood. Bodies dumped into mass graves”. he also added that; “A sense of brutality and inhumanity left for all of the world to see, unapologetically. There is nothing less happening than major war crimes. Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable”
The US also put many sanctions on Russia such as travel and trade ban. From the US President’s statement, two main points can be highlighted, first Russia is pursuing war crimes and should be punished for its deeds, and second, the United States stands with the oppressed nation means Ukraine.
But On October 7, Hamas launched a massive assault on Israel, killing 1,400 people, injuring 3,900, and capturing 199. Israelis refer to this day as “Black Sabbath” and Hamas refer to it as “Al Aqsa Flood”. the President stated in his October 7, 2023 statement that “Today, the people of Israel are under attack, orchestrated by a terrorist organization, Hamas. In this moment of tragedy, I want to say to them and the world and terrorists everywhere that the United States stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have their back. We’ll make sure they have the help their citizens need and they can continue to defend themselves”
He also mentioned the beheaded babies which were later clarified as fake news but the President gave Israel full right to respond to the attack. After Oct 7, Israel launched a counter-attack which included the siege of the Gaza strip and a complete blockade of all necessities in Gaza which created a humanitarian catastrophe.
Response of the United Kingdom:
The Government of the UK in a statement stated while reacting to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, “The UK and our allies condemn the Russian government’s unprovoked and premeditated invasion of Ukraine. Putin has isolated Russia from the rest of the world. The UK stands with Ukraine, its democratically-elected government and its brave people at this awful time” The United Kingdom imposed various sanctions against Russia and accused President of Russia Vladimir Putin of war crimes.
The British government reacted Israel and Palestine conflict as “The UK unequivocally condemns the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians. The UK will always support Israel’s right to defend itself,” and the Prime Minister of the UK said that he was shocked by the attack.
Though the UK supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas terrorism they emphasized the need for precision in achieving this goal. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have conveyed this message, stressing the importance of protecting civilians in the process.
Response of the European Union:
Another important part of the international system the European Union (EU) reacted to the war in Ukraine as a pure act of terror and the President of the EU Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen in her statement said “As the war in Ukraine rages on, and Ukrainians fight bravely for their country, the European Union steps up once more its support for Ukraine and the sanctions against the aggressor – Putin’s Russia.”
While reacting to Israel and Palestine conflict she said “Europe stands with Israel. And Israel has a right to defend itself. It must defend its people.
In the case of the Russia and Ukraine conflict, the EU responded with sanctions and military aid to Ukraine but the Israel violations are considered as an act of self-defense. Dropping bombs on civilian infrastructure and collective punishment is all against international law but there is need to study international law a little bit.
Response of China:
Another P5 member and 2nd biggest economic power China proposes a 12-point solution to the Ukraine crisis, prioritizing respect for sovereignty and abandoning Cold War mentalities. It urges immediate ceasefire and resumption of peace talks, emphasizing dialogue as the only viable path. Protecting civilians, prisoners of war, and nuclear power plants is crucial, while ensuring unhindered grain exports and dismantling unilateral sanctions are key to mitigating the humanitarian and economic fallout.
China advocates for stable industrial and supply chains, and stands ready to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction. This comprehensive approach seeks to de-escalate the crisis, promote peace, and address its broader consequences.
China while reacting to the Israel-Palestine conflict said that “China is closely following the escalating conflict between Palestine and Israel. We’re deeply saddened by the civilian casualties and oppose and condemn acts that harm civilians. We oppose moves that escalate the conflict and destabilize the region and hope fighting will stop and peace will return soon.”
China played a neutral role in both the conflicts and they believe in the resolution of disputes through negotiations and UN resolutions.
Response of Canada:
Canadian Prime Minister said in his statement “As Russia continues its illegal and unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine, Canada will continue to support the Ukrainian government and people. In standing up for themselves, Ukrainians are standing up for democracy everywhere.”
While addressing the Israel Palestine conflict he said in his tweet that “Canadians stand with you. And our government stands ready to support you. Our support for Israel is steadfast.”
The Canadian response is very similar to that of the US, UK, and EU because of their common geopolitical interest and very strong alliance between them.
Response of United Nations:
The key organization in the international political system the United Nations (UN) responded to both conflicts. The Secretary-General UN Antonio Guterres responded to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and stated that “We need an immediate cessation of hostilities and serious negotiations based on the principles of the UN Charter and international law.
While responding to the Israel and Palestine conflict he said “I repeat my utter condemnation of the acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October. There is never any justification for the killing, injuring, and abduction of civilians. I appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of those civilians’ held hostage by Hamas. I condemn the killing of civilians in Gaza and I am dismayed by reports that two-thirds of those who have been killed are women and children.
After the brutal genocide carried out by Israel, the UN General Secretary used article 99 of the UN charter so the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution on Tuesday 12, Dec demanded humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza but failed due to the use of Veto by the US, the UK abstained from the resolution and China, France, Germany, and Russia vote in favor. A total of 153 countries voted in favor, 23 abstained and 10 countries voted against the resolution.
From 24 February 2022, which marked the start of the large-scale armed attack by the Russian Federation, to 24 September 2023, OHCHR recorded 27,449 civilian casualties in the country: 9,701 killed and 17,748 injured.
The continuous bombardment of Gaza by Israel killed at least 21,731, including 8,697 children and 4,410 women in only two months. All these acts are against international law but Vladimir Putin is war criminal and also arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court after killing 8000+ children and women the PM of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu is still an ally of the West. This discrimination should stop and every country should act according to International Law.
The global response to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza highlights the nuanced approach of the international community to conflicts. In the case of Ukraine, there was a more unified condemnation of actions, emphasizing the violation of sovereignty and international norms. However, the conflict in Gaza faced a more divisive response, reflecting deep-rooted regional complexities and differing perspectives on the underlying issues. These distinct reactions underscore the challenges in achieving a consistent and cohesive global stance on conflicts, with geopolitical factors playing a crucial role in shaping diplomatic responses.
The Author is a scholar of Defense and Strategic Studies at Quaid e Azam University Islamabad.